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Brian Mast At FCNL ’17 SQ

6 SEYM Friends Attend FCNL Annual Meeting, Lobby Congress

It is with gratitude to Friends of Southeastern Yearly Meeting, that we submit this report. When we gather with Friends from around the country at the FCNL Annual Meeting and renew our commitment to work and witness for the world we seek, you are with us in heart and spirit. You, our Quaker community, support us and encourage us in our effort to be persistent, patient, prophetic and spirit-led. Gathering with the broader community of Friends, as the Friends Committee on National Legislation, we are grounded by this vision.

“We seek a world free of war and the threat of war.

We seek a society with equity and justice for all.

We seek a community where every person’s potential may be fulfilled.

We seek an earth restored.”

SEYM was represented at the FCNL annual meeting in Washington, D.C., November 2-5th of 2017, by our appointed FCNL General Committee members Nancy Corindia (Sarasota MM), Aurelio Anderson (Tallahassee MM), Catherine Price (SPMM, Lake Wales), Karen Putney (Tampa MM), Lou Putney (Tampa MM), and Sandra Schwartz (Clearwater MM).

The work of this annual meeting was focused by the theme, “Learn. Lobby. Lead.”. 450 attendees from throughout the U.S. participated in this activist weekend and completed over 200 lobby visits to their respective House and Senate offices. Through training and guidance by FCNL staff the focused ask by all was as follows:

1) Oppose increased military spending; and, if funding for military programs is increased,

2) Advocate for increased domestic spending by a comparable amount;

3) Support a reliable and timely audit of Department of Defense spending.

SEYMers with Rep. Brian Mast

Our Florida delegation included the SEYM Representatives listed above as well as Tracy Booth (Treasure Coast WorshipGroup) and Ormand Derrick (Sarasota). Friends and like minded activists are welcomed and encouraged to attend the Thursday and Friday lobby training and join with their state delegation of Quakers to lobby.

We were pleased to be able to meet with staff and directly with two House Representatives. We shared our concerns, offered information and most importantly, listened. Building a relationship with our members of Congress is a work in progress and we were pleased that the staffers from Senator Rubio and Senator Nelson’s office remember the “FCNL Quakers” from previous lobby visits. We did not all participate in each visit but were a full delegation in meeting with the Senators offices.

Thursday, November 2nd, we had meetings with:

  • Rep. Kathy Castor
  • Rep. Brian Mast
  • Rep. Dan Soto staff
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis staff

Friday, November 3rd, we had meetings with:

  • Rep. Vern Buchanan staff
  • Sen. Marco Rubio staff
  • Sen. Bill Nelson staff
  • Rep. Charlie Crist staff

The work of the General Committee of FCNL ran Friday through Sunday noon and included, plenaries involving speakers and presentations as well as meeting for worship with attention to business in the manner of Friends. We also had opportunity for worship sharing, for a variety of workshops to become informed and build our skills and to network with other Friends. Our sessions ended on First Day with worship that was both pastoral and unprogrammed, speaking from our experience of this gathering and to our need to be spirit-led.

At this 2017 FCNL Annual Meeting we were filled with gratitude to be able to celebrate the end of our the very successful Capital Campaign which was supported by so many SEYM Friends and friends! This 5 year Capital Campaign enabled us, FCNL, to purchase and complete the “green restoration” of the building adjacent to the current FCNL offices. This space is open and operating as the “Quaker Welcome Center” on Capitol Hill. It is envisioned and purposed to strengthen our Friendly persuasion presence, to be a neutral meeting place to bring members of Congress and Congressional staffers together to engage in civil dialogue, and to expand our our ability to be a resource for citizen witness and activism. Funds raised are also designated to increase our cross country Advocacy Corp, to support our Friends in Washington program, to strengthen the FCNL Young Adult programming and to sustain our lobby efforts.

LOOKING FORWARD – 2018 is the FCNL 75th Anniversary. A time to remember and rededicate ourselves to our work and witness in Washington D.C. Thinking about those who came before and looking to the future, there are events planned around this anniversary and Friends are encouraged to participate when able. Please check out the ongoing information posted at FCNL.org regarding Friends 75 years of advocacy.

“In the midst of World War II, on June 11-12, 1943, fifty-two Friends from fifteen U.S. Yearly Meetings met at Quaker Hill, Richmond, Indiana, to lay plans for the establishment of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. The aim was to seek as wide support as possible among Friends, both for appointment of Yearly Meeting representatives to FCNL and for their financial support. The Richmond meeting released the following statement regarding the establishment of a Washington office:

Friends have a responsibility to contribute…to the shaping of wise and right legislation in those areas in which our principles and the causes we believe in are most closely affected…These critical times…are bringing home to us acutely the sweeping role which government is playing in shaping life, both national and international.”

We encourage SEYM Friends to ask us about our experiences with the FCNL staff, the Annual Meeting and our lobbying. We would welcome the opportunity to be a resource to all SEYM Monthly Meetings and Worship Groups regarding joining in this work and witness.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Putney on behalf of the SEYM Representatives appointed to FCNL